possible problem w/home, should I hire inspector before listing?

scrapulousFebruary 18, 2009

We are getting our house ready to list for sale. We think we might have a foundation problem, since two of our doors upstairs don't close properly anymore. Not sure, though.

So, should we hire a home inspector before listing to make sure? I *think* I'd rather know before listing so I can fix it now, rather than have a prospective buyer find the problem during their inspection and back out.

I don't want to hire a foundation company to check it out, as they are biased and want the business.

What do you think?

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I would hire a structural engineer.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 7:35AM
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Sometimes a door not closing properly is nothing more than a loose hinge screw or two. How old is the house, and why do you attribute a couple of upstairs doors not closing properly to the foundation? Do any of the downstairs doors not close properly? Do you have others reasons to suspect the foundation?

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 7:39AM
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The house is 14 years old. I'm not sure it's the foundation, but I suspect it may be. Of course I hope it's something simpler! That would be great. The two doors that don't close properly are both on the same corner of the house, and they both have gotten worse slowly, but at the same pace, if that makes sense. No other doors are affected, but there are no doors downstairs in the same spot. There are no cracks in any walls. I just know that when my mother-in-law had this problem, a corner of their house was sinking slowly, so they had to have it shored up. I guess that experience has me worried. My sister-in-law also had a similar problem and it was foundation issues, but her house is 20 years old. It cost $7000 to fix. Ugh.

But you're right, I should check the hinges just to be sure. Can't hurt. But I really do think it's foundation troubles.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 9:36AM
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I would not hire an inspector because then you will be legally obligated to disclose any findings. I would suggest the house has simply settled. YOu don't have to have cracks in walls with settling if it happens slowly.

Anyone who makes an offer should have an inspection. If their inspection finds something, that becomes a negotiating point.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 9:57AM
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I was thinking if I discovered a problem I'd fix it before listing the house. Since it's a buyer's market right now, I want the house to be perfect before selling. And if adjusting the hinges doesn't fix the problem, it will be pretty obvious there is something else going on since the doors won't close all the way. I can't list the house in that condition, considering how many other houses are on the market that could be chosen over mine.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 10:19AM
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Most house foundations settle - at least all of my homes have settled over time and I have lived in many states. My guess is that all the houses in your neighborhood that are about the same age are suffering the same settling foundation problem. It is common problem that most people just ignore or work around. Very few people have foundation work done because it is so expensive.

I would have the doors that won't close properly worked on to make them stay closed. I would patch any other evidence of an "out of square" house and NOT get the foundation inspected. You could have a friend or relative look over your house as if they intend to buy it and tell you what they would want fixed but if you hire a pro, you will be responsible to divulge the findings to future buyers.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 1:14PM
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Really? Most people don't fix foundation problems? I can't imagine knowing for sure I have a foundation problem, and just letting it go. I guess I don't like things not being "right."

But I guess I could just work on the doors themselves, and hope that's the end of it. I would just hate for it come out later through the inspection process that there is a foundation problem, and then we could lose a sale because of it.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 1:32PM
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Settling is not a foundation problem. We all settle with age!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 1:52PM
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Hmmm. Scrapulous appears to have some scruples and would rather know about the problem than decieve a buyer. I would call a structural engineer for a consult. I would also disclose the findings, whether or not it is fixed at the time of sale. My guess is that it isn't a big issue.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 2:10PM
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A home inspector who is not a structural engineer most likely will only be able to tell you what you already suspect...that there is something going on with the foundation.

The best way to know for sure is to hire a structural engineer who holds a professional engineer license. HoweverÂÂbeware...many of them don't say much more than the HI'sÂÂI've seen all too many engineering reports that basically state what the HI report stated, with perhaps a bit more technical language tossed in.

That said, if you choose to hire an engineer, be specific with him/her...if there IS a foundation problem, you want cause determined, as well as a method of repair given.

In this market it is best deal with a problem like this beforehand...because any decent HI will notice the door issueÂ..and most likely recommend the buyer hire an engineer anyway...and in this market, chances are you will have to deal with it...because few buyers will buy a house with a structural problemÂ.even a perceived structural problem. In addition, with so many homes from which to choose, it could turn them off altogether, even if you are willing to reduce the priceÂ.as most would want to avoid the aggravation.

IMO, best bet, find out the real story now, repair it if required, and move on to listing.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 3:05PM
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So, where would I find a structural engineer?

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 4:05PM
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Before you call anyone take a look at your doors. Are they painted or stained on all edges? If not your problem could be something as simple as moisture having gotten into the doors and making it hard for them to close.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 4:26PM
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scrapulous : So, where would I find a structural engineer?

We called the town clerk who could not recommend anyone, but who could give us a list of structural engineers that had done work in the town previously.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 4:43PM
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Are the door frames out of square? It should be obvious if they are. If they are not out of square, it is unlikely to be a settling problem. Even if they are out of square, it may not be the foundation that is the problem.

Easy and cheap things first. Complicated and expensive later. Structural engineers are expensive.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 8:55PM
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My house is 50+ yrs old and two of my doors have never stayed shut unless latched. They swing open. I always found it annoying but never thought about the foundation. There are doors on both sides of this door, bedrooms, which work properly. I know my house is not level but no one every suggested the foundation.

I'm planning to list my house in April and wouldn't consider checking the foundation. I would assume something else would be showing and it isn't.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 10:32PM
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When I was selling my mother's home a few years ago, I had some concern about potential problems. I asked the realtor if I should get an inspection. He said, "We don't know and we don't want to know." I eventually sold the house "as is" and never found out about the buyer's inspection and what it turned up.

I would hire someone to fix the doors, but I wouldn't have an inspection done on the whole house. That would really make for a huge disclosure.
Good luck

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 12:08PM
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I am/was a licenced renovator and new home builder and in almost all cases I've seen, the settling is of the frame of the home, not the foundation.

Even structural steel sags an amazing amount over 20+ years. On custom high end homes, I remind the engineer to go "one up" on the steel. Spec homes are typically no better than Code minimum. Furthermore, as others have noted above, the varying moisture affects things like door swings and fitting from season to season.

Save some money. Get a good trim carpenter to fix your doors.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 12:24PM
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Well, bad news. My husband just did some landscaping in the front yard, and in the process he noticed that there is a crack in our bricks. The crack runs from the bottom of the second story window of the room where the door doesn't close down a couple of feet at an angle. The foundation itself isn't cracked.

So the crack is in the middle of the house and is affecting the corner of the house where the two doors don't close properly.

What does that mean? Foundation? Frame? Something else?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 12:11AM
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Hire a structural engineer to find out. In our case, he was about $500 from diagnosis to when the town inspected the work done (different firm or course, but they followed the structural engineer's blueprints after town code approval). The entire process for what we needed (trees had cracked the foundation and started to push it in) was painless and cheaper than the cost of a bathroom remodel. The soil testing was under $500, and since there are soil issues two miles to the north of us, the tests were worth it for peace of mind.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 6:13AM
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